I've been teasing you guys about this latest creation since the middle of October. Even though that's only four weeks ago, it feel like I've been working on it a lot longer than that. Maybe I have, but it can only be a few weeks longer, so, given the scope of this project, the fact that it only took six-ish weeks is pretty stellar.
I had seen ideas for this kind of thing on the internet before, (which is probably why, when people tell me I could sell a pattern, or start making them, I tell them I don't think so. It's not really my idea at all!), but we previously had a round-ish dining room table, that had all four legs doing some strange curvy thing into the middle before coming out again to support the table. It was not conducive to play at all.
Then our chairs fell apart. Then we got free ones from Steve's work. Then those chairs fell apart too. And for the first time in our lives, we were thinking about actually having to purchase dining room furniture. It was a little daunting even just thinking about it, let alone actually shopping for it. Thankfully, right as we needed to make a decision, the people who lived diagonally behind us announced that when they moved they wouldn't be taking a dining room set and would anyone like it, for free? Yes please! Let's put off being grown ups and buying dining room furniture just a little longer shall we? :D
The new dining room table has legs on the outside, and is rectangular. All the things it needs to be to allow for a table tent to be made. My time had come!
In an effort to continue using up the material in my stash, I started there. For a table tent, you need quite a lot of fabric, it's ideal for recycling things like sheets. Luckily, I had some sheets. A linen one that was from my great Aunts, kind of special actually, because I can even remember the day they gave it to us: Steve and I had gone around for afternoon tea to tell them we were engaged. My Aunty Vi disappeared into a room at the back of their unit and came out with some sheets for us straight away. When I showed them to mum, she said they must have come from the hotel that they had once had. Special.
Anyway, there was another one that I've no idea where it came from, and some blue checked ones that Steve used as a teenager that his mum gave me a while ago (probably with the space sheets), and a cot sheet of blue stars that my friend Megan from down the road had given me (when she gave me the other star cot sheet that became Rachel's dress). Then I had a heap of a bright yellow material (not a bed sheet), which I think came in the same lot as the blue floral from this post, though I'm not sure. I do know that I didn't buy it. Finally, some green checked material from the lady at church. It was kind of soft and flannel-y feeling.
Finding all of the fabrics was step one. Thinking about how things would come together was step two and took a lot more time. I knew I wanted it to be fully lined, so the inside walls would be different to the outside. I worried that it would be too hot, so it obviously needed windows for ventilation, not just fun. I ummed and ahhed over curtains but ended up not bothering mostly for the heat reason, but also because I was a little over the windows by that point.
I also took ages to figure out what I wanted to do with the door, for which I didn't initially have fabric for. Luckily, I took all of the sheets over to my parents house to cut out (because they have a table big enough and space for kids to play and not be in the way while I was cutting) and as I cut, mum mentioned she had some red fabric she wasn't using. Turned out it was the perfect amount for the door. And I mean the perfect amount.
Then I thought a lot about whether or not I would put words or windows on the door, and how it would come together. It's the thinking that takes the most time! I also knew I wanted the garden part of the house to be usable and interactive for the kids. I was a little bit inspired by Ikat Bag's Little Blue House (of course), but I also know my girls like things to be useful or changeable. They play with it much longer if there are options.
Anyway, when I finally got sewing, things came together pretty quickly, though I did keep adding details, which lengthened the process quite a bit. If I were doing this for anyone that was not my daughters, I'd probably not bother with fully lining it, because that's really overkill for a play-tent. And would make window instillation much easier.
My friend from down the road Leesa had just started a sewing studio in Moorooka, which you can check out here. It's a great space to sew in and they have all sorts of classes that you can do. I went along with mum on a few Wednesday nights of Social Sewing to work on the table tent. It was really good to sew with other like minded people who I could also bounce ideas off. First thing I made was the bunting, out of the cot sheet. I was going to sew it in to the tent, but mum suggested using velcro to make it removable, which I liked even more.
Then I put the walls together (sewing the green grass onto the bottom of each outside wall) and worked on the gardens. The gardens look spectacular when they were a work in progress and lay flat on the ground (as you can see in the next WIP photo), but they don't look as great on the actual table, or so I think. The weight of the flowers makes them droop, and because the gardens are so close to the floor, the hang of the fabric means you can't see some of them.
Not the end of the world though. The girls still love picking the flowers. It was one of the first things they did when they discovered the house in the morning.
After they had picked the flowers, they asked where they could put them, which made me so grateful that I had thought to sew a basket on to the front for them to display flowers in. There are two kinds of flowers, those on stems (green pipe cleaners) that are kind of droopy, that get "planted" into the longer green clumps of felt grass.
Then there are smaller flowers with no stems that are buttoned on. These can be unbuttoned and put on the decorative buttons on the basket for display. I hand sewed all of those flowers out of felt. Again, using up felt from my stash. It was a nice change of pace (as always) and I even had a little bag of the cut flowers, needles and thread that I could take out into the yard and work on while the kids played. Ahh the serenity.
I also put a mail pocket on the other side of the front door, obviously for mail. As yet, unused, but it's only been a day.
The door splits in two. There are ties up the top, so you can roll up the top half and tie it out of the way. Sophie just lay it on top of the table though, so I guess that works too. The bottom half lays flat to be a mat. When the door is "closed" it's held together by velcro dots.
Inside the house are the a pocket on the wall for the bunting to be stored in, when not in use, and some "art work" which I "framed with some more material. The pictures are actually some spare fabric I had from the Colouring In Kindy Dresses so Ikea material. I had the girls colour random bits and then cut them out and sewed them in.
The pocket material is left over from some cot bumpers I made in 2014, and I feel like I've used it somewhere else, but can't think where. The frames on the pictures are some left over material from the Pink Flowers Bunting that I made in 2016. I really like the "pictures" because I feel they are something special for the girls. They even signed them with their wobbly-learning-to-write signatures. Love!
I feel like I should talk about the windows, but they were honestly such a pain in the butt to sew that I really don't want to. If people are interested in their story, they can ask me in the comments.
Finally, here are some little detail shots of the gardens. I sewed a few little extra buttons on for Rachel, who loves her bugs. There are two bees and one little lady bug.
When it's all packed up and done, it looks like this:
Which is a lot of material with copious amounts of play potential. Provided it stays with this table, because it is exactly the right size.
Thanks for making it through the post (if you are indeed still with me). I hope the pictures and my ramblings do this justice. The girls and I just had dinner on the floor of the kitchen because they are so busy playing in their table house that they've moved half of their rooms in. What have I done?!